Travels with Charley (and Jack and Travis)

On the Ring of Kerry in Ireland. Travis, at left, set the timer for the picture and stood on a rock so he’d appear to be tallest. (He nearly is, even without help.) Then there’s Charley and me and Jack.

There was a time when I questioned my sanity. It came as I contemplated a plan I’d had in motion for a year: taking my three adolescent boys on a road trip through Scotland, England and Ireland.

I would be the sole adult. I used the term ‘adult’ loosely, since the person-of-age here is me — not always the most practical guy in the world.

We flew into Edinburgh, rented a car, drove around Scotland and England, then flew to Dublin, rented another car — a nice BMW — and drove around Ireland.

Nice, simple trip. No real plan. Pure serendipity.

Here’s a brief scene from inside the car:

Aside from learning to drive on the other side of the road, everything went pretty well.

The tripĀ  is done now and I think the three weeks we spent together will loom large with me for the rest of my life. I’m not ready to write about it yet; I’m still digesting. But I will post some photographs here today and will post comments (and other pictures) now and again.

It was a long trip — perhaps a bit too long, we all agreed, but could not imagine doing it in less.

Charley at Blarney Castle

It was not hearts-and-flowers the whole time, either. There were some difficult moments.

But you know how … years after you’ve lived a certain day, you come to realize that that day was one of the important ones. That on that day, everything was right and you know why you were here on the earth. I’ve had that feeling before, when I took my Highway 61 trip, and I had it on this trip.

This was time I will always treasure with Jack, Travis and Charley.

So, for now — here are some pictures.

The boys with the stoned Beatles on the Liverpool docks.
The view from Stirling Castle.
It was hard not to have ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ playing in my head at all times.
With Travis and Charley at the Tower of London
Now when I hear ‘my heart’s in the highlands,’ I know what they’re talking about. This was on the way to the Isle of Skye.
Jack on the Liverpool dock
With the boys at Stonehenge
Crows at Stonehenge
With Jack
Charley roamin’ in the gloamin’.
Charley and Travis engaging in silliness. For some reason, they don’t often smile when their pictures are taken. It’s a McKeen Family trait.
Jack with another roadside attraction in Scotland.
American icons, painted on the walls of an underpass in London.
This made it all worthwhile